"Dazed and Confused" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jake Holmes in 1967. Music critic Richie Unterberger described it as "a stark, spooky folk-rock track with stinging reverbed lead guitar, Holmes' own pained vocals, and furiously strummed rhythm guitar that winds itself into an anguished climax." Holmes recorded the song for his debut album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes and performed it in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the New York City folk scene and the college coffee house circuit. The lyrics refer to the effects of a girl's indecision on ending a relationship.
After hearing Holmes perform the song in 1967, English rock group the Yardbirds reworked it with a new arrangement. It became a centerpiece of the group's tours in 1968, several recordings of which have been released. "Dazed and Confused" was further adapted later that year by guitarist Jimmy Page's "New Yardbirds" group (soon to be rechristened Led Zeppelin) for their debut album, Led Zeppelin. "Dazed and Confused" became a concert staple with solos that sometimes stretched performances to 45 minutes.
|"Dazed and Confused"|
Promotional single label, 1968
|Song by Jake Holmes|
|from the album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes|
Singer-songwriter Jake Holmes wrote and recorded "Dazed and Confused" for his debut solo album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes, released in June 1967. Like the other tracks on the album, the song does not include any drums and was recorded with the trio of Holmes on guitar, keyboard and vocals; Ted Irwin on guitar; and Rick Randle on bass.
The arrangement is a modular dirge in the key of E minor built on a descending chromatic bass line alternating between the 3rd (E-G-F#-F-E) and the 7th (E-D-C#-C-B). The guitar chords ring and drone on the root E minor, augmented by bent notes over a menacing strummed beat and a solo dissolving "into an acid guitar drone".
Holmes was influenced by psychedelic rock and groups, such as the Byrds and the Blues Project, and wrote the song influenced by those styles and the darkness of the blues. Holmes' singing is pitched, edgy,[according to whom?] and the dark paranoia of some of the song's lyrics ("you're out to get me/you're on the right track") and ("I'm being abused/I'm better off dead"), coupled with the dissonant string bends of the instrumental break led some music writers and other sources to assume the song was about a bad acid trip; but Holmes said it was a song about a girl.
In August 1967, Holmes opened for the Yardbirds at a Greenwich Village gig in New York. According to Holmes, "That was the infamous moment of my life when 'Dazed and Confused' fell into the loving arms and hands of Jimmy Page." When the track appeared on Led Zeppelin's eponymous debut album in 1969, Holmes was aware of it at the time, but did not follow up on it: "In the early 1980s, I did write them a letter and I said basically: 'I understand it's a collaborative effort, but I think you should give me credit at least and some remuneration.' But they never contacted me."
In June 2010, Holmes brought suit against Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for copyright infringement, claiming to have written and recorded "Dazed and Confused" two years before it appeared on Led Zeppelin's debut album. In court documents Holmes cited a 1967 copyright registration for "Dazed and Confused" which was renewed in 1995. The case was "dismissed with prejudice"[a] on January 17, 2012, after the parties reached an undisclosed settlement out of court in the fall of 2011.
By late-1966, English rock group the Yardbirds' presence in the Top 40 market had been replaced by constant touring. In July 1967, they began their second tour of the U.S. as a quartet, with Jimmy Page as the sole guitarist. The group performed at more countercultural venues, such as the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Their sets became more varied with extended medleys and featured guitar instrumentals by Page, such as "White Summer" and "Glimpses".
On August 25, 1967, the group headlined at the Village Theater in New York City, with opening acts the Youngbloods and Jake Holmes. Yardbirds' drummer Jim McCarty was the only Yardbird to catch Holmes' performance.[b] He liked the song and bought the album the next day, subsequently playing it to rest of the band. They reworked it, focusing the arrangements based on the descending bass line. Page added additional guitar riffs in the middle of the song.
The Yardbirds began to develop a new arrangement for "Dazed and Confused" while still on tour in the U.S. Holmes' brooding atmosphere and descending bass line were retained, as well as most of the lyrics. Page doubled the bass line, echoing Holmes' live performances with two acoustic guitarists. However, propelled by drums and an overdriven Fender Telecaster, the song quickly took on a new, distinctly non-folk sound.
Singer Keith Relf initially followed Holmes' verses, but later often changed the order or mixed lines from different verses. Led Zeppelin biographer Mick Wall feels that Relf only "slightly altered" the lyrics, while Page biographer Martin Power credits Relf with "writing new lyrics". Yardbirds chronicler Greg Russo describes that gradually the song "moved from Holmes' original lyrics to an alternate set of lyrics that combined words from Jake Holmes and Keith Relf."
The Yardbirds' major innovations were the instrumental breaks and an extended instrumental middle section. Writer-educator Susan Fast describes the breaks, appearing between the verses and after Page's solo, as "a detail that contributes significantly to the drama of the piece, creating enormous tension at the end of each verse before moving on to the next.
It begins with a bowed electric guitar phrasings by Page, answered by vocal and harmonica interjections by Relf. Page attributed the idea of using a violin bow on the guitar to a suggestion from violinist David McCallum, Sr., whom he met in his pre-Yardbirds days as a session musician. The bowed section gives way to Page's riff-laden guitar solo, propelled by a bass ostinato and fast driving 4/4 meter. The song returns to the slow tempo 12/8 verse structure before the coda. The Yardbirds' new arrangement, contributed by the four members, soon amounted to a major reworking of Holmes' original piece. As bassist Chris Dreja summed it up, "We found it, arranged it and played it. In a way, it was a great epitaph, because we were feeling very dazed and confused about what the hell was going on!"
"Dazed and Confused" was a regular part of the Yardbirds' performances during their final tours in 1967 and 1968. The song debuted during their short US tour in late 1967, which included a date at the Village Theater. When they returned to England, the group performed a nine-minute version in January 1968, around the time the full quartet recorded their last single "Think About It".[c] On March 5-6, the Yardbirds performed "Dazed and Confused" for BBC Radio. In his Led Zeppelin biography, When Giants Walked the Earth, Wall notes that the relatively concise 5:48 version "sounds almost identical musically to the number Page would take credit for on the first Zeppelin album". (Led Zeppelin's studio version lasts 6:28.) Another short (5:46) performance was filmed by French television on March 9 for Bouton Rouge.AllMusic critic Bruce Eder notes it "comes off much better than the official [sic] Anderson Theater version from later the same month."
On March 28, 1968, the Yardbirds returned to New York to begin their final US tour. Before their March 30 concert at the Anderson Theater, representatives from Epic Records, the group's American label, informed them that it was going to be recorded for a live album. The group felt that it was not sufficiently prepared, but proceeded, with "Dazed and Confused" as their third number. Disappointed with the playbacks, the Yardbirds rejected any idea of releasing the recordings as a live album. However, after Page's rise to fame in Led Zeppelin, Epic released the album in 1971, with "Dazed and Confused" retitled "I'm Confused" (with no composer credit or performance rights organization). (Within a week, Page responded with an injunction, which prevented further sales of the album.) Although the recording and the group's performance is a bit rough, in a review Eder singled out the song as "something new, a slow blues as dark, forbidding, and intense as anything that the band ever cut - it showed where Page, if not his band, was heading." In 2017, Page remixed the Anderson Theater recordings and the song (with the correct title) was issued on Yardbirds '68.
The Yardbirds never attempted to record the piece in the studio. However, Page used an abbreviated version of his guitar solo from "Dazed and Confused" for the middle-section guitar solo of "Think About It".
Several live recordings of "Dazed and Confused" are in release. If the song was introduced, it was announced as "Dazed and Confused" - it is unknown why Epic re-titled it "I'm Confused".
|"Dazed and Confused"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin|
|from the album Led Zeppelin|
|Released||January 12, 1969|
|Jimmy Page (inspired by Jake Holmes)|
When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, Page planned to record the song in the studio with the successor group he had assembled that summer. According to Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the first time he heard the song was at the band's first rehearsal session at Gerrard Street in London, in 1968: "Jimmy played us the riffs at the first rehearsal and said, 'This is a number I want us to do'." The future Led Zeppelin recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their debut album Led Zeppelin (1969). "Dazed and Confused" was the second song recorded at the Olympic sessions.
Page recorded the song in one take with a Telecaster and violin bow as he had performed it with the Yardbirds.[d] Singer Robert Plant wrote a new set of bluesier lyrics, according to Page, though Plant is not credited on the album.[e] Other sources say Page wrote the new lyrics himself. Whichever the case may be, Plant's vocal is raw and powerful, delivered with "unrelenting passion." Other than the lyrics and vocal, the song remained very similar to that performed by the Yardbirds earlier that year.
In June 2010, Holmes filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, alleging copyright infringement and naming Page as a co-defendant. The suit was "dismissed with prejudice" on January 17, 2012,[a] after an undisclosed settlement between Page and Holmes was reached out of court in the fall of 2011. Subsequent Led Zeppelin albums, such as Celebration Day (2012) and the remastered and deluxe editions of the group's debut album (2014), expanded the songwriter's credit for "Dazed and Confused" to "By Page - Inspired by Jake Holmes."
"Dazed and Confused" was performed on every Led Zeppelin concert tour up to and including their 1975 shows at Earls Court. It was then removed from their live set, although Page continued to perform parts of the bowed guitar segment during solo spots on subsequent tours, as preludes to "Achilles Last Stand" (1977 tour) and "In the Evening" (Knebworth 1979 and Tour Over Europe 1980).
A live version of "Dazed and Confused" recorded July 1973 at New York's Madison Square Garden was featured in the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same (1976), with the bowed guitar section used as the soundscape for Page's fantasy sequence. The version on the accompanying soundtrack clocked in at 29:22. Other live recordings are found on the following official releases:
|Rock and Roll Hall of Fame||USA||"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"||1994||*|
|Pause & Play||USA||"Time Capsule Inductions - Songs"||1998||*|
|NME||UK||"117 Songs to soundtrack your summer"||2003||*|
|Toby Creswell||Australia||"1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time"||2005||*|
|Pitchfork Media||USA||"The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s"||2006||11|
|Q||UK||"The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks"||2007||2|
|Q||UK||"21 Albums That Changed Music - Key Track"||2007||6|
(*) designates unordered lists.
Even better is "Dazed and Confused," (...) which was actually an uncredited cover (...) of a psychedelic folk song originally done by the largely unknown Jake Holmes
Included was "I'm Confused," which would appear on the first Led Zeppelin album as "Dazed and Confused," a hard-rock classic.
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